I have noticed lately quite a few questions from new users that are unfortunately unanswerable because they do not contain enough detail, or code, or data. Rather than re-hashing the usual comments ("please include data!" etc), I was looking for a long-form explanation of how to ask a good question in the site's help pages.

That's when I noticed that, in my opinion, there is a discrepancy between the title and contents of these two help pages for our site:

In particular, after a brief mention of what is on-topic in the first paragraph, the text within the "What topics" page describes, in excellent detail, how to formulate a good question (description of problem, including code, how to format, latex etc).

However, that is content I would have expected under "How to ask a good question"; instead, that page is rather generic in its advice.

Am I misunderstanding the two headings? If not, should we then change the contents of those pages (in essence, move the "how-to" material from "what topics" to "how do I ask")?

  • 3
    Sounds like a great idea to me.
    – Chris K
    Mar 7, 2019 at 5:25
  • 3
    You made a good point, but mods can only modify /help/on-topic ("What topics..") page, not /help/how-to-ask ("How do I ask...", which is generic to all SE sites)
    – Andrew T.
    Mar 7, 2019 at 11:27
  • 1
    @Andrew You are right that the how-to-ask page is the same almost everywhere; the only two instances of a customized /help/how-to-ask page I found are the ones for StackOverflow and ServerFault. Apart from becoming one the largest sites on StackExchange ;-) , I wonder what we would need to do to get ours adjusted as well. I still find it weird that the "How to ask a good question" page does not actually contain any site-specific information on how to ask a good question.
    – MarcoB
    Mar 7, 2019 at 21:37
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    You raise a good point. I think to some extent it is countered by the fact that What topics can I ask about here? is the first question on that page, and a user might be reasonably expected to read it if they read any of them. Would you consider it useful to have "What is a good question?" or similar as a large title within the What topics can I ask about here? page?
    – Mr.Wizard
    Mar 9, 2019 at 5:31
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    @Mr.Wizard Yes, I think your suggested change would be useful for the use case I have in mind, i.e. pointing inexperienced question writers to it. I was not aware of the fact that “How to ask a good question” is not under this community’s control when I asked this question.
    – MarcoB
    Mar 9, 2019 at 5:44


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